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Delivering a blow to Cancer

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer


With the sounds of cracking hardwood, Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley launched its 2014 Relay for Life campaign Thursday by breaking boards and collecting cash.

Marking its 14th year, the unique 12-hour overnight, non-competitive event involving teams of people taking turns running or walking the track will be held on June 6 at Dundonald Hall on Garrison Petawawa.

Making its home now at the Renaissance Square Campus at the Pembroke waterfront, the college continues to play a pivotal role as a fundraising partner in the Canadian Cancer Society's signature event of the year.

The college officially kicked off their own Relay for life campaign with the ninth annual KO for Cancer. This is the second time the event has been held at the new campus. Staff and students purchased boards for $2 and watched as martial artists used their hands and feet to shatter the boards in two. Purchasers were encouraged to personalize their boards with messages for loved ones fighting cancer or those who have lost their battle with the disease.

“This lets people know there is a way of fighting back against cancer,”

said Dan Labelle, an instructor with the Police Foundations program, who practices the martial arts. “If you can fight through two or three boards you can fight through cancer.”

Andre Renaud, co-ordinator of the college's cooks program, came up with the idea for the fundraiser. A cancer survivor, he was struck by the dreadful disease at the age of 26 when he was training for a national karate competition. He underwent a year of preventive chemotherapy dropping from 225 pounds to 168 pounds.

“I was never a runner, I was a fighter,” said Renaud, adding this event is an example that you don't need to run in the Relay for Life to take the battle to cancer. “I fought in the ring so I never had to run. This is a different way to give back.”

The Renfrew County Relay for Life campaign kicks off on Saturday, March 1 at the Pembroke Mall. This year's theme is superheroes. Teams will be asked to dress up as their favourite caped crusader. Participants are asked to register online at or give the Canadian Cancer Society Renfrew County Unit at (613) 735-2571.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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